I'm sure you've heard someone say this before. Maybe you're even thinking "oh, yeah, I totally hate shots" but upon hearing that, I'd think to myself, "oh... they don't get it". Because I'm afraid of needles. Like, totally.
Flu shot? Never.
Blood drawn? Never. Not even once. In my whole life.
What was that shot they told you to get before you went to college? Whatever that disease that kids were dying from when their roommate gave them it or someone in their class? I'm totally having a blonde moment/drawing a blank, but nope, didn't get that one either.
Measles shot? Mumps? Rubella? It's been at least 10 years.
Was it the hepatitis vaccine? Why am I thinking "Pamela Anderson" but also that shot they told you to get before you went off to Uni (omg am I totally pretending to be British right now or what?!)
(Didn't that remind you of "unibrow" totally? Am I getting off track? Yeah, cuz writing about shots makes me sick to my stomach!)
Okay, so before you roll your eyes and be all "stop with the dramatics woman!" let me go through a list of all of my "incidents" associated with needles and/or doctor-related things:
- Pre-school shot. I was 3, maybe 4. I not only fainted, but I also threw up. Then I peed my pants.
- Went with my mom to her OB/GYN appt when I was 3. Saw my mom get a blood test. Fainted. (Just from witnessing it.)
- Got my ears pierced at 5. Fainted.
- (don't really remember much between 5 and, say, 12.)
- My friend gets her ears pierced at the mall. We're both 12. I throw up in the mall. (I know. You're thinking, "could the list really continue?" And the answer is, Yes, Yes it can.)
- My mom tried to pierce my ears (2nd hole) with a home kit that I bought at a head-shop. I was 14. Nearly fainted. (Seeing a trend with the piercing stuff? I promise I'm not a gothy/hippie/punk kid. I'm as Gap as you can get, I promise.)
- I get a shot, nearly faint, I think?
- Blood drive at my high school. My friend wants me to go for moral support. I decide that if I'm too much of a pussy to donate myself, I can at least support a friend who is brave enough to. I walk in the gym, start to feel sick, then tell my friend I have to go to the bathroom, where I go calm myself down from nearly fainting. (i.e. hide in a stall and stick my head between my knees so I don't faint in the bathroom)
- Finger prick, nearly faint. (And by "nearly faint" I mean, I have to lay down for a long time (10-30 minutes) before I can even leave the doctors office. Sometimes I have to put my head to the ground and the rest of my body elevated so blood can get to my head so I don't pass out. By "nearly fainting", usually my blood pressure drops SIGNIFICANTLY. My pulse will be racing, I'm sweating and clammy at the same time. I black out but I'm still conscious, literally I can't see anything but blackness and stars, I'm incoherent and can't concentrate on what anyone is saying or what's going on around me. The only thing I can concentrate on it trying to stay conscious. I KNOW. LOSER.)
- Belly-button pierced on spring break. I have to go there drunk (on purpose, the belly button pierceing wasn't a whim while I was drunk, I purposely did it to calm my nerves) and end up puking 3 times and 'nearly faint'.
- Go to the chiropractor, who shows me x-rays of my spine and such, I faint. (WEIRD, I KNOW)
- Start a job with a medical company that manufactures equipment used in open-heart surgery. As I'm touring the place, someone mentions that the company will often go to a nearby slaughterhouse to pick up pigs blood to use on the testing equipment, rather that "fake blood" i.e. dyed red water. The thought of that makes me literally quesy, and I have to dissociate myself from reality for about 5 minutes to avoid fainting.
- My best friend was hospitalized for about 6 months total over a 1.5 year time span, with a serious disease that required 3 major surgeries and long hospital stays. Often when I would be visiting with her, a nurse tech or someone would come in to get her labs. Usually I'd take that cue and head for the visitors lounge and was fine. But one time, I thought "you know what? This is stupid. I'm not the one getting the finger prick. Just stay here, think about something else, think about school, think about the weather, think about my job, think about..." and then all of a sudden the nurse tech would be at Karin's side, her hand sticking out towards them, and I realized I should have left. I was going to try to make it to the visitors lounge but even as soon as I got to her door, I realized I wouldn't make it that far. Thank God she was at the end of the hall, I ducked into the emergency staircase and was able to sit down on the stairs compose myself. When I came back 15 minutes later, she was like "what the heck happened to you?!" and laughed when I told her I almost got sick. ALL FROM THE THOUGHT OF BEING IN THE SAME ROOM AS HER WHEN SHE WAS GETTING HER FINGER PRICKED.
There are more instances, trust me, there are more. Some also involve the dentist. And suffice it to say, if you are a queasy person and are scheduled for a cavity filling, I strongly suggest you NOT eat an entire bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos before your appointment. I'm just saying.
Anyway, where am I going with this? So, in college, I took some psychology classes for fun, because my honors program allowed me to take any electives I wanted to, even ones outside of my major and outside of university requirements. I think I partially thought I was going to uncover the mystery to this stupid doctor/needle phobia for once and for all. It's illogical to think that by taking a psychology class I would somehow figure it all out, but it was a start. I even thought to myself, "I wonder if anyone's legitimately studied this?" because I'd never really heard someone talk about any doctor/needle phobia in the past (and still haven't, until tonight).
But recently, for a few reasons, I've decided I should go and get the all-out physical, including my first ever Blood Test. I'm pretty sure I have high cholesterol (now that just makes me sound gross!!) and probably mild arthritis, as both are in my genes. I also realize that it's positively silly that I avoid the doctor because of this phobia. I'm fully aware of that. I "get" it. I know it's dumb. But, it's still there. There's no denying that I haven't had 1 or 2 isolated incidences, rather, it's a real live phobia I'm dealing with here.
So, off to Google I went. And let me tell you... my first ever Oprah "LIGHTBULB" moment. I read every word of this website http://www.needlephobia.com/ and agreed with nearly every single thing I read. It was amazing. I didn't realize that other people felt this way, and somehow felt validated that I wasn't the only nut-job out there.
(Also here is the link to the research article that was in a medical journal.) http://www.needlephobia.info/pages/Hamilton-Needlephobia.pdf
I realized a few things tonight:
I avoid seeking medical attention because of my phobia.
I'm afraid that I don't voice my phobia when I'm in the situation, which makes it spiral even worse.
I'm afraid people won't take me seriously when I tell them I'm needle phobic.
I'm afraid that people will think less of me when I tell them I'm needle phobic.
I'm afraid that if/when I do communicate or try to communicate what is going on at the present moment when I'm in the middle of an "episode" that I won't be understood or taken seriously.
Bottom line is: I'm avoiding going to the doctor for these reasons, and that is not good for my health. Bottom line.
And I need to get to a place where I care more about my health than I do about avoiding the doctor because of this phobia. And while I don't really have a clear answer just yet, reading this article and knowing there is at least 1 research article by a psychologist is comforting, it's a starting point. I can at least print out the study, bring it to a doctors office with me. Maybe that would be somewhat validating.
At any rate: WOW. I'm feeling somewhat sheepish that I just wrote all of this out, but at the same time it's kind of liberating to be "outed" as a needle phobic. Without having read this article, I would've felt like a mumbling moron. Actually, I still feel like a mumbling moron, but at least I'm a mumbling moron with an article from a medical journal to back me up.
Some people have legitimate fears of heights. Or spiders. Or of being alone. Me? It's all about the hypodermics, baby!
Post Script: OKAY PEOPLE: I know that was so uber dramatic. You're SO rolling your eyes and laughing at my behind my back. That's fine. I'm laughing at me too. I'm a veritable lunatic when it comes to the rambling dramatic blog post. I apologize for the 10 minutes of your life that was just wasted.